The Cranberry Sauce Controversy (with Poll and Recipe!)

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Cranberr Sauce

Generally, there are three types of people: Those who won’t eat cranberry sauce at all. Those who like it cooked and gelatinous. And those who prefer their sauce raw. I fall firmly into the raw camp. It is simply not a Thanksgiving meal without that tart, sweet, fresh, palate-cleansing, and gorgeously magenta blob of cranberry sauce on my plate.

The recipe I use is easy, but it needs to be made a day or two in advance for the sauce to reach its peak flavor. My mother made it, and now I make it too.

Maria’s Cranberry Sauce:


2 cups organic fresh raw cranberries

2 organic oranges or tangerines (especially important that they’re organic, since you are going to use the skins)

½ cup sugar (or to taste—depending on how tart or sweet you want it)


1. Rinse the cranberries and put them into a food processor or blender.

2. Squeeze the juice out of one of the oranges and add it to the cranberries.

3. Cut the other orange up into bits, skin and all (cut off the ends or any ugly bits), and add that in as well. Grind the mixture into rough bits (don’t make it too smooth).

4. Pour the mix into a bowl, add the sugar, and stir.

5. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. The sugar doesn’t really do its job until then—so you can’t really tell if it’s too sweet or too tart until after. The color will deepen as well; it’s basically the “maceration” process. It’s good.

6. You’re done! Serve it cold and in a pretty bowl on Thanksgiving Day. Or eat it later with yogurt and whipped cream! Or with ice cream for dessert or a snack.

Some people doctor this sauce up by adding walnuts (not so bad) or liquor (terrible idea! But I don’t drink, remember?).

While I think this cranberry sauce is one of the top three, or maybe five, important parts of a Thanksgiving meal, I know others who won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole (my husband), and some who much prefer the cooked kind. Yuck! What about you? Let’s take a vote and settle this controversy once and for all:

[poll id=”6″]


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32 Responses to The Cranberry Sauce Controversy (with Poll and Recipe!)

  1. Shelbi November 18, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    I use the same recipe for cranberry sauce. It is so crisp and refreshing!!!

  2. suezq November 18, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    This recipe look great. I love that is is raw, fresh. I’m looking forward to trying it. Thanks.

  3. Laura Ruttan November 18, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    My Mother also always made this raw ground type of Cranberry Orange Relish (she called it), and I have always loved it. But, some people don’t like it. So, I always make another kind. Like, a can of Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce and a can of Mandarin Oranges (drained). Heat together to blend the flavors, and serve warm or chilled with your turkey or pork roast. If it is too tart for you, just add a teaspoon or so of sugar. This is a quick and easy one, but looks and tastes fabulous. Enjoy!
    -Laura (Atlanta GA)

  4. joan November 18, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I like the traditional cooked saue. The raw one is ok but just doesn’t do it for me. My family always made homemade sauce. there are some who will only eat the jelly from the can-Iguess it is what you are used to. I love to make cranberry chutney with raisins, oranges and walnuts-yum!

  5. Jean Nick November 18, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    But hwo can I vote? There are two distinct “cooked” camps: jellied and whole-berry! One is barely tolerable, the other required…but other family members feel the opposite, so we have both on our table. If I have time I make cooked whole-berry sauce from scratch as my Mom always did, though jars of prepared whole-berry are almost as good; but the jellied stuff has to come in cans so it can be served in neat, round slices…or so say the kids 🙂 Cranberry sauce is a requirment for putting in turkey sandwiches the day after too!

  6. Melissa November 18, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    When I was in kindergarten (45 years ago!), we used this recipe. My Mom has made it every year since then. I also love the tart, sweet, fresh flavor, but there is always a slice of canned sauce beside it. Happy, healthy Thanksgiving one and all. We are blessed and have so much for which we should be thankful!

  7. carol November 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    I lived on a farm with organic cranberries in the 70s [in Massachusetts]. they are so good for so many things, esp. kidneys and bladder. the ancient books said they cure “hysteria” in women. would that we had such simple cures for the stresses of life. My problem today is that my sister is allergic to citrus and every recipe you look at has citrus in it. help. and let’s honor the fruit of the earth along with the personal blessings.

  8. donnatk November 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    I love this recipe, I also make a raw relis with pineapple instead of orange about a cup of fresh (better) or canned chunks and sugar to taste (1/2C) let sit about 48 hrs for flavors to develope

  9. jgj November 18, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Our recipe is about the same with the exception that it includes apples (with skin). It is a family favorite.

  10. Heidi November 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    I’ve been cooking my sauce, but just from habit of watching other folks do it that way. I’m ready for raw. I’ve always added oranges and rind, but one thing I’ve been doing is adding fresh ginger, cardamon and similar spices as well. I try not to overdo, but it adds other interesting flavors!

  11. Michelle November 18, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    Cranberry sauce with citrus is a must with any poultry!

  12. Karen November 18, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    MMmm My mother-in-law throws in some walnuts!

  13. Tina November 18, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    I do a cran-apple-orange sauce: 1 bag fresh cranberries, 1 whole orange, peeled and divided, 1 crisp apple, peeled and chopped, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water. Blend in sauce pan and boil until cranberries pop, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until liquid starts to reduce, oranges fall apart, and sauce begins to thicken. Serve either warm or cold.

  14. Amanda November 18, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    I’m with Jean….gently cooked whole berry cranberry sauce (non-gelatinous, please!) is my fav. My recipe:

    Dump into a saucepan: 2 bags fresh organic cranberries, the zest of 1/2 an orange, the juice of 1-2 oranges (depending on size and juiciness), 1/2 cup sugar and a glug of orange liquer (if you want). Cook just until the berries pop and it’s just slightly thick (like apple sauce).

  15. Amanda November 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    Oh, and Carol, I’ve made the same recipe with apple cider and cinnamon instead of all the orange elements. Really yummy option for folks with citrus allergies.

  16. Anonymous November 19, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    Tex-Mex cranberry sauce – with jalepenos is the best.

  17. Kathryn November 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    I’ve tried raw, cooked and canned cranberry sauce. Raw is delicious…beautifully fresh. Slightly cooked is my favorite. Canned? Well, let’s just say that I can’t believe I wasted all those years eating canned cranberry sauce! Such a waste of good cranberries! The majority of the family however, still insists on it. I guess there’s not one recipe for everyone!! I’m going to give your recipe a try Maria and I’ll let you know what happens!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. Donna in Delaware November 20, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Nice recipe, Maria. I don’t think that I have eaten cranberry sauce raw. Will try it. I absolutely hate that canned stuff. I suppose the children like it because it is gelatinous and jiggles. I always do the fresh whole berries gently cooked, never to the point of gelatin-like characteristics. It’s disgusting.

    Carol, I change my sauce ingredients every so often. Try using apple cider, bits of ginger, apple, pear, nutmeg, a tiny bit of cinnamon, a little bit of ground cloves and raw sugar or agave nectar. That should do it for your sister! You don’t always have to use citrus although citrus and the peel give it a bright fresh flavor. Oh, you can add a small amount of port also if you like that sort of thing. Happy eating and a great holiday one and all.

  19. Lee November 20, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    My mother in law does this with apples and pineapple added in. Not what I grew up with, but I like it.

  20. A Gran November 20, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    I make great big potfuls of apple-cranberry sauce. No measurements here. I wash and quarter a bunch of apples, pop them in my 8 qt stockpot with a tiny bit of water. Next I cover and cook them till they’re almost fork tender. Then I add the cranberries – a bag or 2 – and cook til they pop. I put all that through a food mill. Usually the sweetness of the apples is enough to counteract the tartness of the cranberries so I don’t add anything else. It freezes well. It’s not at all gelatinous.

  21. Laura November 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    We always have two cranberry sauces, or, “relish” as my mother calls them. One is from the can. There is even a special serving dish and utensil for presenting and handling the slices of canned jellied cranberry sauce properly.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Fresh cranberry sauce (natural sugars) November 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    2 C fresh cranberries
    1 orange
    1 apple
    1 C dates
    water for consistency

    Process cranberries, orange, apple and dates in a blender and serve.

  23. Ron November 22, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    We love this cranberry sauce. Have been making it for many many years. We add it to many things, including waffles, (add yogurt as well to the waffles). The biggest problem is getting the raw cranberries out of season.

  24. milla November 24, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Just made double the recipe except I only had three oranges and used palm sugar… tasted it right then and was in love. :)) Usually I make a basic cooked version with frozen organic cranberries, orange juice and turbinado sugar. That’s good and all but I may have turned to the raw side. 😉

  25. dawn December 4, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    White raisins added to any of the above recipes are a yummy addition.

  26. Michael L Sturgeon December 15, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    I use dates for the sweetener instead of sugar.

  27. Rachel Assuncao November 5, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    I love learning something new! I’ve never heard of raw cranberry sauce before and will certainly be trying it this Christmas (as our Canadian Thanksgiving is well past now). Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Would it also work with frozen cranberries? The organic fresh ones are only available for a short time, and I usually buy and freeze well in advance so I don’t miss out.

  28. invisible girl November 22, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    cook cranberries with the sugar until they pop. add cinnamon, blend in the sauce. cool and serve!

  29. Donna Bloomfield November 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Our family took this one step further. We add a cup of chopped nuts, three cups of diced apple, and a can of pineapple chunks. We always make this a coupe days before so the flavors have a chance to marry. Yummmm

  30. Katherine Moreno December 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    My Mother raised 7 of us in Michigan, and used this recipe, using fresh cranberries, and an equal amount of apples and oranges. One apple and orange to a bag of cranberries. Used to grind it up in a food grinder. So much easier now, with food processors. After sweetening it up to taste with sugar, after it was all ground up, she would add a package of red jello, with only one cup of liquid to disolve it, per package of cranberries. It does not gel, but only gives it body. This keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. YUM.

  31. Victoria November 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    My raw sauce is made of:
    Fresh cranberries
    Fresh oranges
    Fresh grated ginger
    Ground cinnamon
    Raw honey
    My cooked sauce has all of the above plus:
    Fresh pineapple
    Dark cherries
    All ingredients are organic

  32. Hannah November 18, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    In my familly we made cranberry sauce that was similar to yours. We ground up the cranberries and oranges along with white almonds and fater we had a bog bowl we added sugar to taste and some Cointreau. We made enough for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Turkey dinners. We made it in October and froze it . I loved it. You should try it Maria ! —- Hannah

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